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University should consider alternatives to tobacco-free policy

As the University contemplates a smoke-free campus, The BG News believes the University should enforce the current tobacco-related rules and laws already in place, instead of establishing more restrictions.

The current Ohio law states that no person can smoke within 35 feet of a building.

How many times have you seen a student or faculty member smoking on the stairs outside of a campus building? Never, right?

Of course you do, that’s why the University needs to focus more on enforcing the current rules that are in effect.

Then again, there isn’t any department or student group that focuses on enforcing the 35-foot rule. That responsibility seems to be placed upon the shoulders of the common person. In theory, this law is one of self-discipline and less of something a police officer would have the time to enforce.

If the University wants to make a difference with this policy, they need a designated department or agency that will regulate the restrictions. The University cannot expect students, faculty and staff to police themselves.

We realize hiring more police officers or security officers to catch smokers is unfeasible. Administrations and law enforcers have too much to worry about already.

This is why the News proposes a compromise between smokers, non-smokers and the University.

As many times as you see a bus stop, or maybe even more so, there should be a smoking hub. The smoking hub would be a small space, designated for tobacco users on campus.

These hubs would be out of the way of walkways and common paths to class. This would keep the smoke across campus to a minimum while keeping the smokers happy.

With such a compromise, the University could avoid stray cigarette butts littering campus and keep students from crossing the street at all hours of the night just to smoke.

This way, the campus would be cleaner and students would remain safely on campus.

The News would like to recognize that tobacco use may not always be just an addiction; it can be used as a social and cultural ritual.

College students across the nation bond while holding the hose of a hookah. Some ethnic groups use the act of smoking as a communal bonding agent. We cannot see a justification for forcing them to abandon part of their culture, just because they chose to come to school here. This could actually deter students and faculty from coming to the University. Even though that number may be minimal, it still shouldn’t have to be a deciding factor.

By at least giving them an assigned space, the University is showing that it can adapt to different cultures and lifestyles.

In light of all the stipulations, the University should table the idea of a possible tobacco ban. The University and the Ohio Board of Regents should go back to the drawing board and figure out a way to keep people healthy and safe without encroaching on other peoples’ lifestyles.

Thirty-five feet isn’t too much to start with, so let’s try enforcing that more, rather than asking students, faculty and staff to permanently stash their ash.

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